Monday, September 22, 2014

Sinister - The Post-Apocalyptic Servant (2014)

Much can be said of Dutch death metal outfit Sinister, particularly about the glacial pace at which they continue to evolve. Over the past 26 years, the band has enforced strict adherence to the Floridian death metal aesthetic and, for better or for worse, shown little deviation from it with their latest full-length, The Post-Apocalyptic Servant. One might inquisitively ask if that's a truly a bad thing because sticking to a one-dimensional sound often suggests consistency. Sinister has, after all, explored every nook and cranny of death metal and grown comfortable enough with the style to have the planets align for strong release after strong release.

But will they yet again?

With The Post-Apocalyptic Servant, Sinister serves up the expected wall of sound, but a fundamental flaw surfaces shortly after the album kicks off: the songs are too similar to one another. Looking to past and recent Sinister material for inspiration, the track list makes it no secret that it borrows heavily from what has been done before, which normally wouldn’t detract significantly from the final product. Here, however, the inspiration is so deep seated that one would be hard pressed to find an aspect of the record that hasn’t been beaten to death by the time the first track lays down the album’s direction.  

While this may seem disappointing—and it is, to be honest—The Post-Apocalyptic Servant isn’t without its merits. Indeed, the crystalline production is simply sublime, and the values, which are sparkling and sharp, are perfect for death metal such as this with corrosive riffs and unforgiving drumming. The sound isn’t so overdone that one would lump Sinister in with the over-polished productions plaguing much of contemporary metal, but neither is it so inaccessible that all but seasoned listeners would be willing to give the music a chance.

Like Divine Incarnation, released by sister band Supreme Pain in 2011, The Post-Apocalyptic Servant sports a comparable production and songwriting style. As indicated, the issue isn't the way the music is played because it’s competent and precise. Instead, the close resemblance with neighboring tracks, which gives an impression of laziness on Sinister's part, is to blame. Whereas Divine Incarnation was more daring with its songwriting, using a variety of leads and riffs to push the album along, The Post-Apocalyptic Servant is relatively half-baked, focusing on streamlined music that never strays far from a formula.

Ultimately, The Post-Apocalyptic Servant musters a few standout tracks like the wallop that is "The Dome of Pleasure," closer "The Burden of Mayhem," and scorcher "The Science of Prophecy," but it isn't enough to proclaim the record as a masterpiece. Know that the album is never unlistenable--in fact, it's far from it. The music is just too predictable and offers no surprises for the discerning death metal fanatic.

But then again, was Sinister ever a band known for innovation?

-TMA

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